North wants style, South craves efficiency, says report on vehicle-buying trend in India
According to a 2013 India Escaped Shopper Study (ESS) by JD Power Asia Pacific, the criteria used by new-vehicle buyers in their shopping process have become strikingly different among the various regions of India.
The study has shown that during the past five years, several shifts have occurred among new-vehicle buyers in the various regions of India pertaining to shopping behavior, the ownership experience and how the vehicle is used.
The study shows that a surge of first-time new-vehicle buyers is largely limited to the West and East regions of India. Nearly 70 per cent of buyers in the West and 57 per cent of buyers in the East are purchasing a new vehicle for the first time. In contrast, the proportion of first-time new-vehicle buyers has declined over time in the North region and has remained nearly unchanged in the South.
Attractive design and styling seem to be the biggest reason for vehicle selection among buyers in the North region, while it has been declining in the South, where new-vehicle buyers have found good fuel efficiency as a reason to purchase.
It has also been found that new-vehicle buyers in the South region are more methodical in their purchase process. They conduct extensive preliminary research, visit dealerships, take test drives and negotiate. Buyers in the North were found to do less research before visiting the dealership, relied on the salesperson for information and were less likely to test-drive the vehicle. Internet usage for research during the vehicle-shopping process has increased in the South region to 42 per cent from 21 per cent in 2009. In contrast, in the North, the shoppers are highly influenced by the opinions of friends and relatives in deciding on their vehicle purchase, the Internet usage for research has declined to 13 per cent from 20 per cent in 2009.
While the number of households owning multiple vehicles is at least 1.6 times higher in the North than in any other region, the average number of people riding in vehicles is much higher in the West and the South regions. The penetration of small cars is declining at a faster pace in the North region, with consumers increasingly preferring larger vehicles.
The study has also gone on to show that the vehicle's delivery time has a huge role to play in the consumer's choice of dealer. Customer retention was also studied, with overall retention increasing by 2 percent and Maruti and Mahindra delivering best retention numbers.
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